What’s going on? Rob Fish here. Welcome to another installment of BikeBandit Garage. Motorcycles are fun. You wanna know what’s not so fun though? Flat tires. Unfortunately if you munch enough miles, one day you’ll get a flat. It’s just part of the game. So let’s take a look at the tools you’ll need and the procedure to get you back riding. So right off the bat we’re talking about tubeless tires here, the ones that are traditionally found on street bikes and ATVs and UTVs. Just like it sounds, tubeless tires have no tubes in them. Tube tires require a totally different method of repair.
How exactly do you repair a tubeless tire? Well, there are a couple of factors that need to be considered. First, determine the cause of the flat. Is it a screw, a nail or a staple? And the reason is that it might actually make the most sense to leave the object in the tire and just keep an eye on the tire pressure while you limp the bike home. If it’s a staple in the center of the tread, you’re probably okay. A nail though in the sidewall, hey there’s no shame here in calling a buddy with a truck or even a tow truck. Is it expensive? Yeah, but sometimes that’s just the price of safety. You do carry a plug kit, right? You know, BikeMaster offers a couple of kits starting just over 30 bucks. So those of us on two wheeled vehicles, we should always carry a plug kit. Unlike those in four wheeled vehicles, we don’t carry a spare tire. Small and easy to use, it sure beats having vultures circling over your head while you’re on the side of the road.
If you feel that the tire is safe to plug, let’s do this. Let’s look at what a plug kit consists of. Here’s a rasp, a T-handle pusher, sticking strings, glue, CO2 cartridges, and the inflator valve adapter. Some kits are quite expansive and contains patches too, as they’re meant for both tube and tubeless tire repairs. There are also plug kits out there that might use a mushroom style insert, but in this video, we’re gonna focus on the much more common sticky string type. Now first thing’s first, get yourself off the roadway so as not to be working close to traffic. Before you decide to remove the object, mark the tire at the puncture spot. Once the object has been removed it’s oftentimes a bit harder to see exactly where the hole is. Another thing to consider is that with the item removed, the tire will be losing air, so try to have the next step in the process ready as to minimize air loss and you’ll use fewer CO2 cartridges in the repair. So with the area marked and the reamer at the ready, remove the object from the tire but do this slowly. If the tire’s not fully flat, remember that the remaining pressure inside the tire can actually turn that object into a projectile really fast.
So take the rasp and apply some glue to it and insert it into the hole in the tire and work it in and out until it moves easily in the hole. Try to do this at about a 45 degree angle taking care to avoid contact with the sidewall. The idea here is to rough up the edges of the hole to help the plug get a good solid bite. If the tire’s still holding some air, leave the rasp in to contain as much air as possible. Take the other T-handle, the one that looks like a big sewing needle, and put a little bit of glue on it. Insert it into the tire carcass and move it in and out of the hole a couple times. This is to both lube up the hole and the shaft of the tool. Okay, get all your giggles out now, okay, and focus. Screw this next step up and well, you’re screwed. Like the rasp, insert it all the way through the hole, and this is gonna take some force, but make sure that you don’t push your bike off the side or the center stand. Now, pull it out about an inch, about an inch showing. And again, do this slowly. So now the plug is about two thirds the way in the tire and about a third of it is exposed. Rotate the plug in the hole, about half a rotation, and remove the tool slowly.
Now take out your CO2 cartridges and the inflator adapter. Insert a cartridge into the inflator and get ready to inflate the tire. Place the adapter onto the valve stem and release the contents into the tire. Now, there are different kits out there. Some will have the cartridge covered in a little plastic case and some not. If your kit doesn’t have the cartridge in a little case, actually wear your riding glove when you’re introducing air into the tire as the cartridge will get really cold. Something in the neighborhood of, like, negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and that’s frostbite territory. This complete kit from BikeMaster though comes with a nice little foam sleeve to protect your paws. Most likely you’ll need multiple cartridges to get your tire back into the correct pressure zone. A 190/50-17 rear tire will obviously take more than a 120/70-17 front. It’s best to be prepared with spare cartridges. Once you have your tire back in the zone, remove the adapter valve first. Removing the canister side first will release the air from inside the tire. Now, take out your tire pressure gauge and check your tire pressure. Now you can trim off the excess piece of sticky string.
One last thing and that’s the spit test, go ahead and spit on the repair and look for bubbles. Bubbles means that air is escaping from inside the tire and you did a lousy job. And guess what, you get to do it all over. Now it’s time to wrap things up and get back on the road. Repack your repair kit and gather up your trash. The CO2 cartridges can actually be recycled. Leaving them on the side of the road is not the right thing to do. Earn yourself some future and good tire karma and pack ’em out. As you ride home, go easy and avoid riding at extreme levels of acceleration, braking, and lean angles. Think of as if you just got your leg out of a cast after a break, right? You’re not gonna go run a marathon the first week out. Smooth here is the name of the game. While you’re riding home, the heat building up in the tire will actually help cure the glue. Once you’ve gotten home, the most important thing to do is give your tire repair kit a once over. Replace the items that you use so you have them at the ready next time. Also try to think back of any items that you didn’t have, what would’ve been beneficial roadside and add them to your repair kit. Personally, I added a Leatherman multi-tool to mine.
Now here’s a question we get all the time here at bikebandit.com and that is, should you replace the tire afterwards? Some people say, go ahead and ride it and others will say replace it as soon as possible. We tend to agree with the latter crowd. Remember that all of the inputs of riding a motorcycle are transmitted to the ground through your tires. Acceleration, braking, cornering, etc., that all reaches the ground via contact patches no larger than about the size of a credit card and it just makes sense to replace it as soon as possible. Our tire prices here at bikebandit.com are great and since most tires are over 99 bucks, you know we’ll ship it for free.
So there you have it, just a quick how-to video on plugging a tubeless tires. We hope you found this video helpful. Here we put a couple links to the products used in this video. If this is your first time joining us in the BikeBandit Garage, remember to hit the red button and subscribe to our channel. With each new video you’ll be in the loop learning more about how to work on your motorcycle and saving money by doing the work yourself. You might also learn a couple tips, which will make your motorcycling time just that much more fun. Thanks again for joining us, we’ll see you soon. Now let’s go ride.